DIMAPUR, MARCH 9: Agriculture Production Commissioner (APC), Nagaland, Y Kikheto Sema today lamented that biodiversity in Northeastern States is now under increasing pressure from developmental activities and cautioned that any development process that fails to put in place environmental safeguards may cause irreversible damage to the region.
Speaking at the 13th Bio-Diversity Festival organized by the North East Network (NEN) at NEN Resource Centre, Chizami, Phek on the theme “Embracing biodiversity for well being,” the APC commented that NE States have been able to retain a significant proportion of their biodiversity, possibly due to long years of isolation and difficult terrain, but it is now under increasing pressure to unleash its resources for economic development.
He stated that in Nagaland, there is increasing pressure on forests for commercial exploitation to augment the income of the rural population, resulting in degradation of forest resources and biodiversity. He said Jhum cultivation, practiced by 73% of farmers, is one of the reasons cited for forest degradation and called for the need for sustainable restoration and rejuvenation of Jhum area for restoration of forests and conservation of biodiversity in the State.
Sema proposed a proper road map for the State as well for each district and community even involving Agri and Allied Departments for proper demarcation of conservation and cultivation areas for balanced maintenance of biodiversity and combating climate change. He strongly advocated for preservation of the topmost portions of forested mountains to be kept as catchment areas and encouraged people to use local seeds instead of commercialized seeds.
The APC remarked that during his recent visit to Noklak, he was impressed by their footprints in the District, motivating and encouraging women to preserve seeds and multiply serving as the best seed-keepers. He urged all to promote activities that preserve and protect indigenous plant resources and to promote nutri-cereals like millets, Job’s Tears, and pulses like soya beans, etc., which have huge international markets.
He informed that the year 2023 will be declared “Year of millets” and proposed applying for a GI tag for indigenous food products like ‘Axone”, “Anishe” and fine dried bamboo shoot.
Tamara Law Goswami delivered the keynote address, which highlighted how human relationship with the environment is broken. She said the pandemic has revealed how fragile human health is and women are the first to be impacted.
The main highlight of the programme was the Heritage Seed Exchange, which took place between women farmers of various villages of Nagaland.
The programme was followed by an interactive session with stakeholders where the APC briefed the participants that the Government of Nagaland will support the initiatives of preservation and promotion of traditional seeds by helping to buy the products and also requested the stakeholders to explore and facilitate the activity of skill and knowledge exchange with regards to best practices and improved techniques. He cited an instance where the farmers of ENPO areas were keen to share their knowledge of kholar cultivation.
(Page News Service)